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SOAN 299: Ethnographic Methods: Primary Sources

What's a primary source?

Primary sources are original, uninterpreted information.  Scholars analyze primary sources in order to answer research questions. Examples of primary sources vary by discipline.

Examples in the social sciences:

  • a political, social, or economic theory
  • a dataset
  • the results of an experiment published in a peer-reviewed journal

Archives & Special Collections Hours

The Archives & Special Collections is located on the second floor of the Collins Memorial Library.

Set up an appointment: We are open to researchers by appointment Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. To make an appointment, email

We look forward to assisting you!

Primary Sources in Sociology & Anthropology

Check out these collections of primary resources:

  • American Folklife Sourcebook Database
    This archive includes over three million photographs, manuscripts, audio recordings, and moving images.  It is America's first national archive of traditional life, and one of the oldest and largest of such repositories in the world.
  • Digital Himalaya
    A digital collection of census, journal, film, maps, and music related to anthropological research in the Himalayan region.
  • Documenting the Southeast Asian American Experience (SEAAdoc)
    SEAAdoc is an educational resource of the Southeast Asian Archive at the UC Irvine Libraries focusing on post-1975 refugees and immigrants from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam and the communities they have developed in the United States.
  • is a digital collection developed from a collaboration between universities, research institutes, and content providers.  It contains over four million digital items.
  • EVIA Digital Archive Project
    A collaborative effort to establish a repository of ethnographic video recordings and an infrastructure of tools and systems supporting scholars in the ethnographic disciplines.
  • Southeast Asia Digital Library
    The Southeast Asia Digital Library (SEADL) exists to provide educators and their students, as well as scholars and members of the general public, with a wide variety of materials published or otherwise produced in Southeast Asia.

Disclaimer: selecting an appropriate primary source is dependent on the context of your research. Examples of primary sources include manuscripts, photos, recordings, datasets, or field notes.

Puget Sound Archives & Special Collections, Sociology & Anthropology

The Archives & Special Collections collects, preserves, and makes available primary source material documenting life at the University as well as collections representing regional, national and international issues.

A small selection of material is listed below, for additional sources, please contact

The John D. Regester Collection on Albert Schweitzer, 1924-1974, documents Regester's research on Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), a medical missionary, philosopher, and Nobel Peace Prize winner (1952) who operated a hospital in Lambaréné, Gabon, for 45 years.

The Archives & Special Collections holds a wide variety of primary source material, a small portion of photographs and historical documents are available online.  You can also browse archival and manuscript collections as well as rare books and artists' books (limit the search location on the left to Archives & Special Collections).

Need help?

This guide highlights only a small portion of the many resources available to you.  If you're not finding what you need, don't hesitate to contact Andrea!

Andrea Klyn
Social Sciences Liaison Librarian
tel: (253) 879-2875
office:  Collins Library 141

Request an Appointment with Andrea

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